February 6, 2018


Three gourds

Fabienne Delibalta - Watercolour on paper - 10" x 14"
Challenging forms and textures!

January 10, 2018


Inside-out Birch Bark

Pam Cohen - Watercolour on paper - 9" x 12"

A beach find followed by several months of careful work produced this rich and detailed painting. 
I love the colour saturation, luminosity and detail that Pam is achieving in her work.

Pam Cohen - Watercolour on paper - 9" x 12"


Autumn Leaves

Elizabeth Kidd - Watercolour on Paper - 10" x 14"

Inspired by the magnificent colours we experienced this fall.

January 7, 2018


Kathryn sent me these photos of her most recent paintings, submitted to the International Art of the Plant Exhibition along with her previous painting of Cottonwood Leaves and the Douglas Fir. We're all still waiting to find out if they've been accepted.

Kathryn has also been selling some prints of her paintings. She's in between lives right now so until she gets herself settled in her new home and sets up a web presence you can find out more about acquiring her artworks 
by contacting her directly at kate_mac@telus.net

Poplar Skeleton Leaf

Kathryn Macdonald - Watercolour on paper

 Big Leaf Maple - Acer macrophyllum

Kathryn Macdonald - Acer macrophyllum
Sadly for us Kathryn is packing up and moving back to Ontario this year. She will be based just outside Ottawa where she's already found a botanical painting group to hang out with. We miss you already...

January 6, 2018


Anemone Shell

This watery jewel is one of Meriel's summer paintings. She has a thing for shells...

It's already been 5 years that Meriel has been painting with us and in that time I've had the privilege of watching her develop her skills through some difficult changes. She had a bicycle accident a few years ago that broke her leg and took the sight from one of her eyes. Despite the frustrations that came with that she kept on painting, approaching her limitations with the mind of an explorer. When she was able to adjust to her new vision she embraced what became an opening for a new, more diffuse way of painting, surprising us all with the results.

All that she learned early on is still present in her new paintings along with a blossoming freedom of expression. She still manages to capture an incredible amount of detail, now more impressionistic and flowing, and a wonderful luminosity. She's been focusing on developing her understanding of colour by limiting her palette and exploring new ways of seeing.

I'm always amazed at Meriel's ability to take whatever life hands her, use it to learn something new and then bring it forward to share it with all of us.

January 4, 2018



Meriel's last painting before her annual retreat to San Francisco, like a glowing little sun in our gray winter sky.

November 18, 2017



This is Nadia's first botanical study and she really succeeded in conveying the plump fullness 
of this little plant... a great start.

Nadia took my drawing class at Emily Carr years ago and wanted to take the painting class but got too busy with work. Already a graphic artist and illustrator, Nadia paints and draws and takes beautiful photographs.

October 30, 2017


Purple Peppers

A little window into Meriel's studio. She's been making her paintings on small cards that she then sends off to friends... it keeps her away from getting too hung up on perfection and remaining present in the process of painting itself.

October 28, 2017


Magnolia Skeleton Leaf

Time made this leaf this way, months outside in the winter rain and snow and sun. 
Pam made this painting over the summer months, slowly and carefully recording every fine line and detail. 
Time and patience and persistence, care and careful observation, time and the slowing down of the speed of life...

October 27, 2017


Pear and Grapes

A delicate conversation in red and green, Fabienne's most recent study. There's a peacefulness to this little painting that I find captivating, the luminosity and volume of the rounded forms floating in space...

October 26, 2017


Calla Lily

Yes, it really was this bright.

Elizabeth had a whole plant with many flowers, each of which started bright and vibrant but faded to a butter yellow before falling away too quickly. It was a bit frustrating having to switch from bloom to bloom in one painting but she got there in the end.

August 21, 2017


Capsicum annuum

A small painting with a monumental presence... this gorgeous green pepper is Fabienne's first finished piece. Fabienne started painting botanicals in June during the 4-day intensive at ECUAD. There is so much light, volume and translucency in this little gem, a very promising start!

May 17, 2017


Red Onion

This beautiful study in violets and reds took weeks to paint and it changed a lot over time. Pam kept it in the fridge between sittings and it held up remarkably well for the length of time, despite losing a few bits in the process.

Here is the original drawing, wonderfully rendered in great detail. Both works retain a great sense of roundness and dimension.

May 16, 2017


Lichen Branch

There are at least 6 different types of lichen on this little branch, a study in texture and colour...

A whole world clinging to a tiny branch...

...like earthbound, breathing barnacles.


Falling Leaves

Autumn leaves falling through space...

May 7, 2017


Poplar #3
Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa 

Kathryn's most recent Poplar branch.

The details are worth a closer look.

Kathryn loves to paint branches... the woody parts with all their bumps and shapes... she calls it "dessert"... the reward after wrestling with the hard-to-control washes below the veining in the leaves. It's hard to see the variety of colours in the photograph, but this branch has blue and green and yellow and violet in it. 

April 29, 2017


Vine Maple | Acer circinatum 

One of Kathryn's most recent paintings... crispy, dry Vine Maple leaves complete with offspring.

January 13, 2017


Turban Squash | Cucurbita maxima cultivar

Pam painted the brilliant orange of this winter squash like a beacon illuminating the darkness of winter. Not just a play of light and colour but also of shape... the square in the circle, the circles in the square, stripes and spots and textures, and the deep centre in all its detail. 

What she lacks in culinary charms she more than makes up for in sheer good looks...
Described in the nineteenth century as "the most beautiful in color, and the most worthless 
in quality, of all the varieties of squash;...coarse, watery and insipid."  
Gregory, James J. H. (1893). Squashes: How to Grow Them

November 10, 2016


Poplar #2
Eastern Cottonwood | Populus deltoides

Amazing and unusual autumn colours on this small branch of poplar leaves! 

This detail shows some of the remarkable colour patterns and the fine brushwork in the stem.

These leaves were painted on Arches 300lb hot pressed paper. There was much less flocking this time, and the crisp edges were easier to achieve (see 2 posts below, Poplar Leaves # 1, for notes on paper comparison with Fabriano).

November 2, 2016


Spanish Lavender | Lavandula stoechas

This beautiful sprig of lavender looks so alive thanks to Pam's careful painting.
The composition highlights the bend of the blossoms in the wind.

A closer look reveals the range of colors and delicacy of the brushwork.

November 1, 2016


Poplar #1
Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa


A crisp branch of rusty poplar leaves... 

 ...and a closer look inside the process.

This painting was done on Fabriano Artistico 300 lb Hot Pressed paper. 

There have been quite a few botanical artists experiencing problems with this paper lately, including Kathryn. It has a tendency to bleed and make washes blotchy and hard to handle. Crisp edges have been hard to achieve, and the consistency of the paper is proving unreliable.

Some artists are returning to Arches, as you will see with Kathryn's next painting. 

Others are trying out Moulin du Roy, sized with starch instead of the usual gelatin. 

October 31, 2016


Birch | Betula papyrifera

 Kathryn's lace leaf, picked up from the forest floor, and painted twice life size, or 2:1.

A closer look at the delicately rendered details, where you can see that each vein has dimension.

October 26, 2016


Oregon Grape | Mahonia aquifolium

This Oregon Grape branch was found in the woods in early spring near Kathryn Macdonald's home in Port Moody. 

This is one of Kathryn's first botanical paintings... a very promising start in a new direction. 
She came to the studio with a degree in studio art from Emily Carr, but with no previous watercolour experience. After an initial struggle with the new medium, Kathryn now says she thinks she's found an artistic home in botanical painting. I think so, too.

A closer look at the details.

March 19, 2016


Linden | Tilia americana


Michael's dried linden leaf and seed cluster, elegantly suspended in space...

February 27, 2016



The last blooms of summer.

Budding Branch 

An uncertain foundling caught Elizabeth's eye on the way to the studio way back in the spring.

January 11, 2016


Red Peppers

The intensity of red on a ribbon of green... and a beautiful composition...

December 22, 2015



A simple holly branch for the season, started back in summer... and after many preparatory paintings,
Mary produced this lovely luminous painting.

As rich and beautiful as the leaves and berries are, 
the branch is also very sensitively observed and well-painted.

Peace on Earth...

December 10, 2015


Robin's Egg & Bramble Leaf

A broken robin's egg floating safely to earth in its dried bramble leaf boat...

Painted mostly in drybrush, with little strokes of colour, much like egg-tempera... crisp, clean and clear. This is a close-up view so you can see some of the details... the original composition is the same with a lot more white space around the subject.

December 2, 2015



 Glowing like lanterns...

October 28, 2015


Bird of Paradise

This close-up view of the Bird of Paradise flower was painted on a 22" x 30" sheet 
of 300lb hot pressed Arches paper. 

These flowers don't last long so far from home, 
and Francine went through a good dozen before she produced this arresting image. 

October 25, 2015


Miniature Rose 

A classic corsage composition... 
Renee captured the colour and details beautifully in this charming painting.

Again, the painting was preceded by a detailed drawing. 

Tonal studies like this one and Max Wu's below are very helpful to the painting process, when the subject is drooping or changing too quickly. They assist in getting the shadows right, and in figuring out the subtle shifts in colour that may be lost as the plant ages.